The activities of a research assistant vary according to the type of research being conducted and the current needs of the lab. Your responsibilities should be discussed with the lab prior to enrollment. Examples of tasks UGRAs have completed in the past include:
Most students arrange to earn academic credit for assisting in the research lab of a faculty member (PSY 4993/5993). The academic component of the experience most often includes reading articles and writing a five-page APA format paper in addition to standard lab tasks. Expect to spend three hours of work per week throughout the semester for each course credit earned (e.g. 3 credits = 9 hours/week). Summer session is about half as long as Fall/Spring term, and requires a condensed workload.
Some faculty mentors may allow students to integrate service-learning experiences with standard PSY 4993/5993 tasks. This opportunity provides a chance for students to apply their on-site experiences in the community to what they are learning in lab. You may ask faculty mentors if this is an option they provide.
Registration for PSY 4993/5993 is done on a contractual basis and requires additional permission to the standard registration system. To arrange and become enrolled in PSY 4993/5993, you must follow these necessary steps:
What is the difference between PSY 4993 and PSY 5993?
The difference is purely administrative and does not affect requirements of the experience. PSY 5993 experiences are always 3 credits, whereas the number of credits for PSY 4993 may vary. Adjunct faculty do not have a PSY 5993 section, so students register to work in these labs using the PSY 4993 course number.
How many times can I participate in this experience?
Students are allowed up to six repetitions totaling up to 18 credits for inclusion in overall degree progress. However, a total of 6 combined credits from the following courses, or 9 credits from PSY 4993/5993 may be applied toward the psychology major requirements:
- PSY 3960/4960/5960 Special topics seminars, vary by term (1-5 cr)
- PSY 3993 Directed study, arranged with faculty mentor (1-6 cr)
- PSY 3996/4996H Fieldwork/Internship with academic experience (1-6 cr)
- PSY 4993/5993 Assisting in research lab of faculty member (1-6 cr)
Students may register for multiple labs in a single term.
How is this experience reflected on my record?
PSY 4993/5993 shows up just as any other course would on your transcript and applies toward your term credit totals. An A-F grade will be awarded and will be reflected in your GPA.
Can I take part in these experiences without registering for credit?
Registering for credit is often preferred by labs. However, if you do not need credit, some labs may allow you to participate as a volunteer or part-time employee. You may inquire with individual labs as to their policy. You would not need a research contract for these experiences and would not be held to the academic evaluation requirements.
At what point in my academic career should I participate?
The earlier, the better! Sophomore year is not too soon to begin involvement in research. This will allow you more time to explore interests and develop connections.
Are there any prerequisites?
Prerequisites are determined at the discretion of individual labs. Some labs may prefer registration in a particular course or other prior experience. You will need to inquire with individual labs as to their preferences.
When is the best time to contact labs for UGRA opportunities?
When you register for your other classes is typically a good time to begin contact with faculty regarding next semester opportunities. Many labs are not aware of their need for the following semester until registration time. However, do begin developing connections with faculty or graduate students of interest earlier on in your career. This may open up more opportunities for you.
Do not panic if it takes longer to become enrolled in this experience than your other courses. It is not uncommon for students to have to wait until the beginning of the term to become officially enrolled.
Class Schedule shows 10 seats open in a particular faculty member's lab; why can't I enroll?
The seats shown online are for administrative purposes and do not necessarily represent the number of seats available in a faculty's lab for a given semester. Follow the how to register guidelines for more information on becoming enrolled.